Light in the darkness

It is difficult to talk about Hope in times of great tragedy, yet I have been told when things are darkest, that is when light needs to shine brightest.

Until just a few years ago, I thought hopeful people were stupid. That they willfully ignored the state of life as it was and instead believed in a dream of what they imagined life could be. Slowly, I’ve allowed the idea of Hope to change in my heart, and anchor itself as “the confident assertion that the story of my life is a good one.” Yet as I’ve considered the details surrounding the shootings in Uvalde, Santa Ana, Buffalo and the horrific headlines sharing front page space with them, detailing abuse, war, disease, I can’t help but doubt the goodness of the story of humanity. How can such horror amount to a good story?

The truth is, it can’t. Too many stories have ended the same: in fear, with a whimper and a cry. And I cannot accept the idea that in the long view, some goodness and beauty will be revealed, and make the suffering somehow worthwhile, marveling at how God takes our ashes and exchanges them for beauty. I have to believe God would want so badly that we stop destroying each other and have no ashes to exchange.

So where is Hope in a story that wants to be The Hero’s Journey but reads like The Stand?

It is in the hand of the Author.

We humans have incredible agency, and where there is undeniably plenty that is outside of our control and can make us feel life is happening to us, we possess great power to influence our immediate surroundings. We can begin or end relationships, start or end a job, put down roots or pick up in favor of some far off land, and choose when, where and how to build a family.
We can decide, at any given time, to begin writing a new narrative with our lives.

Many times growing up, my mother would tell me, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.” We need to abandon the idea that a narrative of horror can be saved if we just let it play out a little longer and end the story so we can begin writing something new. Even in scripture, Jesus tells us we must be born again, imploring us to abandon the old narratives that dictate our identities in favor of the Good News and in the Old Testament, God did not simply work with narratives as they were as though He had no influence. He changed names, moved people to different countries, and twisted plots on their heads all under the premise that He was doing something new.

If you woke up today, you possess great power: to write a story for yourself worth living for, and to influence others to do the same. You do not have to hopelessly surrender to a monstrous end. You can write something new. And if enough of us begin writing new stories with our lives and start sharing those new narratives with our family, friends and neighbors, then maybe one day, we won’t have to worry about free roaming monsters.

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